YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio --
Youngstown Air Reserve Station provided a spouse flight aboard two C-130H Hercules aircraft Oct. 4, 2019. Spouse flights are offered at the wing commander’s discretion to military spouses on an installation at different times throughout the year.
The objective of spouse flights is to offer military spouses a first-hand experience at what it is like to fly in a military aircraft while acknowledging their role in the overall mission.
Col. Joe Janik, 910th Airlift Wing commander, gave military spouses at YARS the opportunity to fly aboard the C-130s, operated by the 757th Airlift Squadron, in recognition of the critical role families play in supporting the 910th AW mission.
For Lori Williams, wife of Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Williams, 910th AW command chief, this was her first time flying in a military aircraft.
“I’m just excited to feel that rush of take-off and then get to fly over Niagara Falls,” said Lori Williams.
Spouses of the 910th's Reserve Citizen Airmen play a critical role, often behind the scenes, supporting their spouse during monthly unit training assemblies, annual tours and deployments.
“Sometimes you don’t really want the spotlight to be on yourself as a spouse,” said Lori Williams. “We want the spotlight to be on our Airman. I think everybody would say that if you asked them. We’re behind the scenes, and that’s where we like to be as the support crew.”
Katie Marquardt, wife of Chief Master Sgt. Brian Marquardt, 910th Medical Squadron superintendent, values her role as a military spouse.
“It’s hard, but it’s amazing,” said Marquardt. “It’s very noble, and it makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you are doing your part for the military by supporting them.”
Eiryn McKay, wife of Capt. Matthew McKay, a pilot assigned to the 757th Airlift Squadron, got to experience her first time flying in a military aircraft while her husband piloted the other C-130H Hercules assigned to the mission. Her husband’s service to his country means her commitment and dedication to supporting his career is vital to the success of the wing’s mission.
“It’s exciting,” said Eiryn McKay. “Most of it is pride and excitement. Sometimes it’s difficult but it is rewarding and all worth it in the end.”
During the flight, passengers were given the opportunity to unbuckle their seat belts and walk around the aircraft to take photos. They were able to explore the cargo area and the flight deck where the pilots, navigator and flight engineer sit.
After being instructed by aircrew members, passengers returned to their seats and fastened their seat belts. Aircrew members harnessed up, tethered in and proceeded to lower the ramp of the aircraft. Once lowered, passengers were able to experience a bird’s-eye view of Niagara Falls.
Over 50 spouses from the installation took part in the spouse flights which ran in conjunction with the 2019 Family Day weekend, here.